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British Heart Foundation
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Cholesterol Lowering?

It may seem like a silly question but does anyone know if the build up in the arteries can be reduced? since my quad bypass I have changed my diet beyond all recognition, virtually stopped drinking and run and swim regularly. I also take statins to reduce my cholesterol which is now down to 3 but I was wondering if the fatty build up could ever be REDUCED ?

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Well done to you Phil, sounds like you are given it a really good shot anyway. Sorry I for one am not sure on that question, but am curious to find out too.

I am sure one of our friends on here will gave the answer you are looking for. Or maybe tomorrow one of the BHF nurses will be able to enlighten you 😊

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Thanks Sina, It looks like it's a one way process. in this high tec world I was hoping someone would come up with a pill to reverse the effects. oh well :)

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Haha....if only.

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There is an "it depends" on this. We get cholesterol from a few places. One is what we eat, so changing diet will help. However the body needs and therefore makes it's own cholesterol in the liver, typically in response to when insulin is released, so good blood sugar and not having diabetes is also important for the process, as I understand it.

The body making it's own cholesterol is why some vegans still have high cholesterol and why they can still get blocked arteries and have heart disease.

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Thanks David. My family has a history of high cholesterol and heart problems so I was thinking of damage limitation for my kids to be honest.

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Thanks Nick. I have bent over backwards to cut out fatty foods and most dairy products. I've even stopped eating cheese which was painful. I eat no red meat and only have the occasional glass of red wine. I really couldn't face a life of eating grass and tree bark (obviously removing the insects first). My surgeon even told me not to go silly in my lifestyle changes as I still have to enjoy life. I will still have a look at Dean Ornish's book however

Thanks again

Phil

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No worries. I think thats good advice from your Surgeon.

I try to eat everything in moderation. I think occassionally having the odd take away is good for you from a morale point of view. Yes keep away from the bark and grass :-).

It does sound like you are doing everything right. So you have every chance of keeping your bypass grafts open.

All the best

Nick

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Thanks Dhomewood, I will have a look at that. I might just take a little something from it. Like all these articles it might be worth adopting a few lifestyle changes that are not too extreme.

thanks

Phil

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HI Phil - I'm sorry to say that there isn't a way to reduce or 'clear' your arteries from the plaque that's built up. All you can do is make sensible lifestyle changes and continue taking any medications you've been given to help prevent any issues.

There are a lot of books out there that have claimed to have the answer to clearing arteries through various diets (usually very strict plant-based/vegan diets), but these aren't backed up by strong scientific evidence. That said - we could all benefit from eating more vegan meals as a way of achieving our 5 a day goal. If you're considering going fully vegan, you might find this web page useful to help you keep your diet balanced: bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-ma...

Hope this helps, Chris

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Thanks Chris. I had my doubts whether a reversal of the plaque could be achieved but I thought it was worth a shot. I am starting to realise that not enough education on fatty foods is getting across. people , like myself have gone through their lives thinking that because they don't have a weight problem they can get away with eating a bad diet. I've even sat in the bar after 2 hrs of hard Karate training eating scratchings in my youth. a flat stomach meant nothing. I pretty much work on half my days being vegetarian ie, tomato based pasta, quorn based chilli, home made soups ect and other days are fish or chicken meals. I will have a look at the web site that you have provided though as some of the nicest meals are where you least expect them

Thanks

Phil

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Chris, Am I nieve in believing what I read in Caldwell Esselstyn and Dean Ornish published works of their studies with Heart patients and the compelling evidence they present? When I read their books and published papers of their work it seems to be very compelling evidence that their WFPB diet does work in reducing cholesterol, angina and the pictures of Angiograms show significantly reduced occlusion in their coronary arteries for those who adhere to this diet.

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I agree there is evidence that plant based diet can help

The stats don't lie and it was the biggest investigation ever done as far as I know? Imy unsure why people dismiss it so quickly

And I'm not even a vegan....yet lol

But people can't deny the evidence

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Cut out salt, sat fat, hydotated fat and trans fat (sorry I can’t spell), and furose corn syrup. Yes it does mean cheacking food labels.

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Thanks Gal4god. I usually stay away from processed foods these days and mainly cook with fresh ingredients. Even getting to the point of quite enjoying cooking. I don't cook with salt however and I totally agree with you about checking the labels on the packaging. I avoid any food that has a red mark on the nutritional value list.

Phil

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The answer at the moment is no, there is no current treatment (medical or lifestyle) that can undo plaque build up . There was a clinical investigation some while ago to see if very high doses of (I think) Atorvastatin which suggested some benefit in plaque reversal but I’m not sure where it went from there. So diet, exercise, drugs can help stop it getting worse but currently there is no way to turn back the clock.

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Thanks Steve. I guess a bottle of heavy duty drain cleaner is out of the question then :) It's not beyond hope that the wonders of science may come up with something in the future however. I already take Atorvastatin so I guess that's a step in the right direction

Phil

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Hello Phil. It’s very true, that we can’t feel someone else’s pain, until we have felt that pain ourselves. Which I guess you and I never bothered to consider what we ate until we glued our arteries together. I’ve been a keen cyclist all my life and because I’ve always bee slim I thought that meant I could shovel any amount of rubbish in, and expect my body to burn it off. Two years ago I got on my bicycle in Blackpool at the age of 64 and pedalled off in a southerly direction with sea on my right. Therory being as we live on an island, I will eventually get back to where I started. At the time a couldnt walk very with arthritis in my hip and I had to replacement knees. 1000 miles later in considerable pain I had got to Plymouth. I got a phone call from hospital. Do want hip replacement that you have been waiting two years for. Ooow yes pleas. So I went home, had hip. The five months later went back to Plymouth. I rode to Dover, turned left, ride to Johnogroats, then Orkney and Shetland. Then along top to Cape Wrath turned left to Ullapool ride through all the Hebrides and islands. By Stranraer my left foot was giving me grief after 3200 miles(4200) total. So went home for a rest. Someone in Wick phoned and said why don’t you come here you might see northern light. So drovevto Wick, got out of the car and WAM!!!!!! I thought someone in the darkness had punched me in the stomach I staggered around then fell into the car. My head was spinning and there was no one around so I drove to a town which happen to have an A&E. There they said I had had a heart attack. I’ve done the same as you in eating sensibly now, and even though I wasn’t fat. I’ve lost 1.5 stone in three months. Still I’ve only got another 350 miles more of the cycle ride to get back to Blackpool. Which I will do in April

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Well Bike, I wish I knew then what I know now. I don't like to preach what I've neglected to practice all my life but My kids get a fair bit of nagging from me. good luck getting to Blackpool and keep on enjoying life. Its a cliché but life IS too short not to.

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Yes I do the same now to my kids and grand kids, when I see them eating so much junk food. Regards Tony

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Hi Phil, I have pretty much read all the research on WFPB diet (Ornish, Esseltyn, Furhmann etc) and settled on a pescatarian diet - fish a couple of times a week, but reduced oil, refined sugar and sat fat intake to very low levels too. I also have added some of the known protective foods ; almonds, walnuts, pomegranate juice etc. There does seem to be some evidence that mild reversal is possible (8% was measured - I think this was the maximum?) both statin and WFPB have been shown to produce these results on their own - so I hope applying both will increase the chances of this happening (I have not seen any research on this though- anybody know of any?)- however they all seem to be quite small studies, but they do seem to be quite conclusive that at least there was no further progression or events in those that took part. What’s annoying is that for some reason these studies have not been repeated on a bigger scale or further results published ; but I suppose one problem is getting people to adhere to the diets. I also suspect this is why BHF won’t back it yet. There are some impressive angiogram pictures of reversal on these diets - but again these are very few. I don’t know if anyone else can point to more images or results even?.

So at 43, with mostly mild atheroma in all three vessels ( after 5 stents fitted after my MI last August) - I am going to try and battle this on all fronts whilst enjoying life and hope technology advances will help in the future. There always seems to be some story of a new approach/study - so I am hopeful something will surface soon! All the best, David

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Thanks for that David. I take a balanced veiw of living with heart problems these days. My diet is quite strict without becoming obsessive and I am very active (for my age). Anything more may increase my lifespan but it would definitely reduce the quality. Like you I am waiting for the magic drain cleaning potion to flush the crud out of my arteries.

Take care

Phil

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